Tim Aspinall, managing partner of DMH Stallard

Tim what’s prompted your retirement as managing partner of DMH Stallard after so many years?
I will have been managing partner for 18 years at the end of December when I step down. The firm has been transformed during that time and we have just completed a very successful financial year that ended on 30th June. Revenue has grown, the balance sheet is strong, and PEP is back to its pre-recession peak. This seemed, therefore, the right time for me to make my decision.

The firm has gone through a huge evolution since your arrival so what’s been your highlight?
There are so many! I think though it has been helping to create a firm that is ready for the challenges that lie ahead in the new legal environment. When I began my role the firm was relatively unsuccessful with no clear strategy and a large High Street presence in many locations. Today it is recognised as a leading mid market law firm, has won many awards for its achievements and has a client list of national and international companies that many larger firms would be proud of.

It’s been confirmed that Richard Pollins will be the new managing partner. How do you think his leadership will differ from yours?
Richard has been head of the real estate department for six years so is an experienced member of our management team already. I know that he wants to continue the work we have been doing but I am sure he will have his own leadership style.

Has your retirement as managing partner prompted any other internal moves/ restructuring within DMH Stallard’s senior team?
There have been a few changes as you would expect; Richard’s position as head of real estate has to be filled by Tina George and Rustom Tata, who is head of employment, has also become chairman.

Mergers have been a big part of the firm’s growth strategy to date so do you think that will continue?
We have successfully negotiated six deals over the years to acquire other law firms. This enabled us to grow significantly, particularly in London which is now a major centre for the firm, and also to open in Surrey. I expect all mid market law firms, including DMH Stallard, will continue to merge to create greater critical mass so they can become dominant players in their chosen market segments.

Will you be involved in the firm post-retirement?
The firm wanted me to stay on as an equity partner but I felt that after 18 years as managing partner that wouldn’t be right as the new leadership team should have the space they need to run the firm. The firm has offered me a generous consultancy arrangement and the option of working as a non executive director and adviser to other businesses so I am looking forward to the next phase of my career.

What will you miss most?
The people. It has been a great pleasure to work with so many talented individuals and help many of them develop their careers and achieve things that they had not thought possible.

The legal services sector has also changed hugely. What are your predictions for the market and for law firms in general?
Bill Gates said we often overestimate the changes that will occur in the next two years and underestimate what is going to happen in the next 10. He was talking about IT but it applies just as well to the current legal market. New entrants, which began to own and invest in law firms two years ago, start with a blank sheet of paper, plenty of cash and bring different business models to the legal sector. They, and I include accountancy firms in this group, pose a real threat to all law firms and only those firms that can innovate and change will survive.

What’s the plan after you retire as managing partner?
I have had many kind emails, letters and phone calls from people inside and outside the firm congratulating me on everything I have achieved at DMH Stallard. Some, both inside and outside the legal profession, are already asking if I can use my experience to help them grow and change their businesses. That’s something I am interested in exploring and I feel fortunate to have so many different options for the next stage of my career. I certainly won’t be sitting on a beach doing nothing as I still have the desire and energy for another challenge.

Finally, any words of wisdom for the readers of The Brief who have followed your career and seen DMH Stallard’s continued growth?
Leadership requires a clear understanding of the market and where your firm fits in; an ability to articulate in a few simple and consistent messages what needs to be done to get there; and a relentless determination to make it happen and inspire people on the journey with you. In my experience a good night’s sleep and an understanding spouse are essential!